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Rite Aid’s April pharmacy sales bloom

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid on Thursday posted a same-store sales increase of 3% for the four weeks ended April 25. April front-end same-store sales, which were negatively impacted by 0.9% due to a shift in the timing of Easter, decreased 0.5%. Pharmacy same-store sales, which included an approximate 145 basis points negative impact from new generic introductions, increased 4.6%. 
 
Prescription count at comparable stores increased 1.8% over the prior-year period.
 
Total drug store sales for the four-week period increased 2.4% to $2 billion. Prescription sales accounted for 68.9% of drug store sales, and third party prescription sales represented 97.7% of pharmacy sales.
 
Rite Aid is also performing well year-to-date with a 3.6% lift in same-store sales for the eight weeks ended April 25. Front-end same-store sales increased 1% while pharmacy same-store sales increased 4.9%. Prescription count at comparable stores increased 2.2% over the prior-year period. Rite Aid salers were up 3.2% to $4 billion. 
 
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Bartell names retail veteran as CEO

BY Ryan Chavis

Brian Unmacht (left) and George D. Bartell

SEATTLE — Bartell Drugs on Wednesday announced the appointment of Brian Unmacht as CEO. He was named president of the chain in January 2015. George Bartell has been the company’s CEO for the past 25 years and will continue to serve as chairman, the company stated. Jean Bartell Barber is the company’s vice chairman and treasurer.
 
Unmacht joined Bartell Drugs following a nearly three-decade career with REI where he held a number of senior positions, including EVP and COO. He joined Bartell Drugs’ board of directors in 2011. 
 
“Brian’s dedication to customer service, well-developed leadership skills and grasp of our day-to-day operations has been quickly demonstrated. In his expanded role, he will play a very important leadership role in positioning us for long range growth,” George Bartell said. 
 
Unmacht said the company’s commitment to customer service has not wavered since 1890. “It’s not only part of our heritage, it’s a key element for our future success here in the Puget Sound area,” he said. “We’re very focused on serving neighborhoods throughout the region to meet their health and wellness needs.”
 
Members of the Bartell family are engaged in the company’s succession transition, including Evelyn Barber, who is rejoining the organization this year upon completion of graduate school, the company stated. 

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Walmart to build 115 new stores in China by 2017, upgrade 50 this year

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

BEIJING, China — Walmart Stores unveiled plans to countermand slowed growth in China with 115 new stores in the country by 2017 and creating some 30,000 jobs. The announcement adds about 35 new stores to the retailer’s building plans as Walmart previously targeted 480 total stores in China by 2016, up from around 400 now.
 
CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement that "China is a key strategic market for Walmart. Over the next three years we will increase investment across our diverse business operations in China.”
 
The 115 new stores are slated for Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan between 2015 and 2017; the company also announced it would invest $60 million to remodel more than 50 stores this year.
 
Walmart has faced slower growth in China’s challenging retail environment, recording a net sales decline of 0.7% for the quarter ended Jan. 31. The retailer has responded with plans to shutter some under-performing stores and ramp up its online grocery offerings via e-commerce arm Yihaodian.com and a new mobile app slated for the near future.
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